The Fundraising Chronicles: What God has Taught me through Funding (Part 1)
Funding a ministry is hard work, and I hope I’ve been some help to you all in this series. As I wrap up this blog series, I want to bring you into my journey a bit and share with you some of the things God has been teaching me through the funding of our ministry.
In my daily prayer life, there is one consistent prayer that I often pray to God. ‘Lord, mold me and shape me into the Man of God you want me to be.’ This really is the desire of my heart, to be become more Christ-like and is modeled after verses like Isaiah 64:8, ‘But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.’ The dangerous thing about a prayer like that is when God actually does it! Becoming more Christ-like is hard for our sin-hardened hearts and hurts sometimes! As many of you already know, I’ve in in full-time ministry for the last 25 years, all of which has been donor funded ministry where I’ve been able to do ministry full-time. Over the last couple of years, God has slowly been moving me away from this model of ministry, and quite frankly, I haven’t handled it all that well. In these last two posts, I’d like to share with you a bit about my journey in ministry over the last few years and share with you what I’m learning.
1. God has been using our funding (or the lack thereof) to shift our work away from China exclusively
For those that know me personally, you know about my deep heart for China and the Chinese people. I could have easily been someone who moved to a Chinese city and spent the rest of my life doing life with a group of Chinese and trusting God to see their lives changed and transformed for Christ. To me, that would have been a life well spent. I started our ministry in 2005 to serve the growth and development of the Church in China and was very happy to be going back and forth between our home in Denver and the Chinese locations where we were completing our projects. By about 2013, it was clear things were changing in our ministry as the projects were getting to a ‘job well done’ stage and I was dealing with serious ministry burnout. More about my burnout experience can be found in Episodes 55-57 of my Made for Missions Podcast. Clearly, he was moving me away from China exclusively and wanted me involved in helping Christians find Great Commission fulfillment, but I was so enamored with the ministry in China that it took an almost shut down of our funding to get my attention! It’s been interesting how God has brought into my life a series of people that have had similar stories of doing one thing in ministry, then God brings them to a point of ‘I want to do something very different with you now.’
Main Takeaway: Always be attentive to God’s work and direction in your life and hold whatever ministry you’re doing with an open hand… After success in one area of ministry, He may want to use you in another way!
2. My closed mind toward the Funding of our ministry caused problems
There is nothing like a lack of funding that God can use to get your attention and this is the area that God has been doing the most work. For so long, my wife and I believed that God had called us into ministry and therefore, God would provide for us financially, which He did for a long time. We raised our 3 kids during this time, and God faithfully provided for our family, albeit with certain ups and downs along the way. When our funding began to decrease starting in 2014, I reacted too slowly to the changes that were taking place in our ministry and my personal life. You can imagine where the difficulty could have come from: I felt for years that God would provide, but when the money wasn’t coming in, I continued to press into the things that I had done before thinking He would kick back in and provide for our needs. I waited it out far too long and should have made significant changes a lot earlier. Here was the rub: Do I have the responsibility to provide for my family? Yes, of course. Paul has strong words about this in 1 Timothy 5 as he writes, ‘But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’ On the other hand, I have male friends in ministry who don’t even think about their responsibility and only trust God for their provision. Because God is providing, they are able to provide for their families.
Main Takeaway: As a man who has responsibilities to my wife and kids, I should have moved quicker to step in with a part-time job or other side hustle. Making your family sweat it out while you stand on what God did in the past is not OK. For those of you who may be in a similar situation, just be aware of how God is providing, and if He is not, there’s a reason for it. Make changes as necessary for the good of your family and your ministry.
As you can see, God really is using funding to mold me and shape me! In Part 2 of this last post, I’ll share a bit about how God used a quote from a Missionary hero of mine to change my perspective on missionary funding. Stay tuned!